Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon
Gay-Neck, the Story of a Pigeon is a 1928 children's novel by Dhan Gopal Mukerji that won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1928. It deals with the life of Gay-Neck, a prized Indian pigeon. Mukerji wrote that "the message implicit in the book is that man and winged animals are brothers." He stated that much of the book is based on his boyhood experiences with a flock of forty pigeons and their leader, as the boy in the book is Mukerji himself. He did have to draw from the experiences of others for some parts of the book, such as those who trained messenger pigeons in the war. The book offers an insight into the life of a boy of high caste during the early 1900s and also into the training of pigeons. Several chapters are told from Gay-Neck's perspective, with the pigeon speaking in first person. Elizabeth Seeger writes in a biographical note about Mukerji that, "Gay-Neck was written in Brittany, where every afternoon he read to the children gathered about him on the beach the chapter he had written in the morning." In an article in the children's literature journal The Lion and the Unicorn, Meena G. Khorana calls the novel one of the few children's novels from Western or Indian authors to explore the Himalayas in a meaningful way (rather than simply using them as a setting), and notes the way Mukerji recalls their "grandeur and spiritual power".
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